Ira (real name Miracle) and Zac (short for Zackery) are ‘children in care and have been in this situation for a long time. Will they ever find a family of their own? Ira starts her diary as they arrive in yet another home – Skilly House. She records her hopes, her fears, her dreams – and the events of their daily life, as she and Zac wait for that little bit of blue sky.
This is not a misery memoir for KS2 readers. There are moments of tragedy and there is no hiding the loneliness and displacement felt by children who have had to be taken into care. However, the author does not dwell on this to the exclusion of all else. Rather she writes very much in the tradition of authors such as L M Montgomery, Hodgson Burnett, Streatfeild or nearer in time, Hilary McKay and Michelle Magorian. So there is a happy ending, adults are not all horrible. Set in the late ’80s against the background of the Poll Tax riot, it is distanced enough to ensure the diary format really does work, while yet retaining a familiarity. Both children are very real, and readers will warm to Ira’s voice while the rest of the cast seen through her eyes are flesh and blood. The events of her everyday life will be instantly recognisable. While adult readers may quibble at some elements of the plot, this is that rare book that is perfect for young readers who want a proper story, real characters and situations without being harrowed and where there is the warmth of optimism. This is the author’s debut and to be highly commended; a new voice to welcome.